Trio of New UChicago CS Faculty Join for 2021-22 Academic Year

September 16, 2021

The Department of Computer Science is excited to welcome three new faculty members joining this fall and winter. The new arrivals bring further expertise in cryptography and privacy, AI-driven visual computing, and human-computer interaction to the department, expanding our research and education strengths. This year’s hiring adds to the explosive growth of UChicago CS since 2017, with 28 faculty members added in the last five years

Aloni Cohen will join UChicago as an assistant professor of computer science in January 2022, and will also hold an appointment in the new Data Science Initiative. His work explores the interplay between theoretical cryptography, privacy, law, and policy, and aims to understand and resolve the tensions between the theory of cryptography and the privacy and surveillance law that governs its eventual real-world context. Current topics of interest include differential privacy, Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Fifth Amendment, encryption, multiparty computation, and the Census.

Before coming to UChicago, Cohen earned a Ph.D. at MIT, advised by Shafi Goldwasser, and he is currently a Postdoctoral Associate at the Hariri Institute for Computing at Boston University and the Boston University School of Law. He has also spent time with the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Facebook and at the Aspen Tech Policy Hub. 

Rana Hanocka joined the University of Chicago this summer as an assistant professor of computer science. Hanocka’s research builds AI systems for 3D data, combining computer graphics, computer vision and machine learning techniques such as deep learning and convolutional neural networks to work on unstructured, three-dimensional geometric data. The work helps advance applications from autonomous vehicles to visual art to human-computer interaction, making 3D content creation and innovation more powerful and accessible. 

Hanocka received her Ph.D. in 2021 from Tel Aviv University under the supervision of Daniel Cohen-Or and Raja Giryes. She is the founder of 3DL, an organization for researchers passionate about 3D, machine learning, and visual computing. Hanocka is currently looking for undergraduate and graduate students interested in joining her lab, who may contact her via email.

Ken Nakagaki will join UChicago as an assistant professor in January 2022. His work studies “actuated tangible user interfaces,” inventing and speculating in the gap between fingertips and the physical world through physical computing, robotics, and human-computer interaction research. Through projects such as ChainFORM, inFORCE, and HERMITS (mechanical shells for robots inspired by hermit crabs), Nakagaki investigates the future of physical space and materials coupled with computation for novel physical experiences. At UChicago, he will establish the Actuated Experience Lab, where he’s seeking students, interns, and postdocs to invent, materialize and speculate novel ideas and visions for interaction design and HCI research through interactive and robotic technologies.

Nakagaki received his Ph.D. from MIT, where he worked in the Media Lab’s Tangible Media Group. Before joining the Media Lab, he received Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in interaction design from Keio University in Japan. His work has been exhibited at the Ars Electronica Festival and Laval Virtual and he was named one of MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35 Japan in 2020.